SALT LAKE CITY -- Criminal charges have been dismissed against a former West Valley City police officer who shot at a car being driven by a man in a hit-and-run crash.
In an interview with FOX 13 on Wednesday, Jared Cardon insisted he acted in self-defense, despite the Salt Lake County District Attorney declaring the shooting was "unjustified."
"I know what it feels like to be accused of a crime you didn't commit," Cardon said.
Cardon shot at a car involved in a hit and run crash in West Valley City last year.
"As I saw him coming towards me, I was first waiving my arms, like 'stop police.' He obviously was not going to respond to that at all," Cardon said Wednesday. "Then as a challenge I presented my firearm and was challenging him to stop and that had no effect, so when the vehicle was almost bearing on top of me, then he started to veer away slightly."
Cardon shot three times at the tire of the vehicle. A half-block away, the vehicle was abandoned and the suspect was later apprehended. In an 18-page report, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said the shooting was not justified. The report said evidence suggested the vehicle was trying to avoid the officer.
A misdemeanor reckless endangerment charge was filed against Cardon, who resigned from the West Valley City Police Department. The charge was dismissed earlier this month with prejudice -- meaning prosecutors could not re-file it.
"As the evidence was coming forward, we became concerned about whether we could meet our burden of proof," Gill told FOX 13 on Wednesday.
The district attorney stood by his opinion that the shooting was unjustified.
"We stand by that based on the analysis we did," he said.
The Fraternal Order of Police, the union that represents police officers, believed the case was dismissed because the shooting was, in fact, justified.
"The evidence showed that it was a justified shooting," said Brent Jex, the president of the FOP. "The evidence showed that the opinion of the district attorney was wrong."
Cardon has been in other officer-involved shootings that were ruled justified. He was also sued by a man who claimed excessive force in a lawsuit. Cardon was caught on a dash-cam "body-slamming" a man. The former officer said Wednesday that the suspect in that case was being uncooperative and combative. A jury ultimately sided with Cardon in that lawsuit.
"Because this all came together in the perfect storm, I'm the one that represents the cowboy and the bad cop," Cardon said of being charged criminally. "In each one of these cases, the lawsuit included, was found to be unfounded and based on claims that were, in the end, proven to be unjustified or not relevant to the facts they claim they have."
Now that the criminal case against him has been dismissed, Cardon said he is trying to find another job. He said he would like to be a peace officer again.
"I'm moving on with my life," Cardon said. "What is there to do now, but move forward."